The Tagus Estuary is a nature reserve and is considered to be one of the ten most important wetlands in Europe for sea birds. If you enjoy direct contact with nature, don’t miss a boat trip through this large estuary, where you can observe many of the species that inhabit the area. Another way to catch sight of some of the 100,000 birds that spend the winter here is to take a stroll along the footpaths that surround the estuary. You are quite likely to surprise a flock of elegant pink flamingoes as they take flight.
If you want to go beyond the nature reserve but still stay in the Tagus Estuary, why not visit the tidal mills, such as the one at Corroios, which bring to life old bread-making traditions? The riverbanks have always been a meeting point for different peoples and cultures throughout the ages, and there are still signs of the various occupations that were performed here.
But if you’re passionate about bird-watching there are plenty of other nature reserves within a 50km radius that you should not miss. The Paul de Boquilobo Nature Reserve, also in the Tagus Estuary, hosts the largest colony of herons in the Iberian Peninsula, and has been classified by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, which also has a huge variety of birds, boasts another attraction, the the dolphins that accompany your boat trip. You can also take a sailing trip in one of the Galeões do Sal, the traditional boats that go up and down the estuary and the coast of Arrábida. And don’t leave Setúbal without tasting the delicious grilled red mullet, the gastronomic speciality of this fishing port. The Berlenga Island Nature Reserve has ideal nesting conditions for a variety of sea birds that can be observed there. The Berlengas are a small group of deserted islands where the walls of an old fortress are a reminder of the legendary stories of pirates. Surrounded by green crystalline waters, take advantage of the low tide to enjoy a motor-boat trip around the hidden caves. You’re sure to be captivated! And in Peniche, don’t miss the chance to sample a succulent caldeirada (fish casserole) prepared using sea water.